Class Glass

For some time I’ve been aware of a number of other photographers around me talking about using certain prime lenses. If you’re not a photographer that may not mean very much to you so let me put that into a way that makes more sense. Put simply it’s not a zoom lens, a zoom being capable of shifting from say a wide lens to a telephoto, enabling you to bring more into the shot on a wide or instantly being able to zoom in, to get closer.

Parting with a considerable amount of money will buy you a good quality zoom lens but the optics will always be compromised over a prime. It’s fairly obvious; you’re using several pieces of glass to be combined to give you best of two worlds. A prime lens will do one job, but will do it very well.

The differences are sharpness and also potentially wider apertures. What this adds up to for a photographer is firstly a sharper picture, but as well as being sharper it also increases contrast. It generally means that a photograph has more vibrancy. Where apertures are concerned often a lower quality zoom can have an aperture that changes through the focal length. What I mean by that is that the amount of light allowed into the camera through the lens may lessen as you zoom in. Better zooms avoid this, but they are still limited by how much light can be let in, compared to some primes. There are two reasons why this can make a difference. Firstly a wider aperture will allow more light into the camera for viewing purposes, thereby making it easier to see through the viewfinder for composing a picture. The other notable difference in wide apertures is what is known as low depth of field. Once again a little explanation is perhaps needed. Low or narrow depth of field is a minimal amount of focal range, what this does is concentrate the eye on a point of interest by blurring foreground and background, a prime lens with a very wide aperture will do this to the extreme as well as allow you to shoot in much lower light.

Below is a picture from a recent shoot taken with my newly acquired 50mm f1.2 canon prime at Scalford Hall near Melton Mobray. I’m having lots of fun with it, and it will go nicely with some of my zooms which certainly still have their place!

Wedding Shot Taken Using a Canon 50mm f1.2 Prime Lens

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